Where is freedimensional?

You’ve probably read about Google Latitude, and maybe even used it yourself. I’ve been using it mostly without meaning to, because I activated the service on my N95’s Google Maps and the bloody thing never turns off. Here’s where I am right now:



Locative technologies are a growing area of interest for me. I believe that GPS, cell-tower triangulation and even good old Bluetooth will play a large part in making cloud-computing extra-relevant to consumers.

I know that people get a bit funny with the blend of real locations and virtual space (see Google Street View debacle) but once we’re all using our next-gen pieces of UI, your networked device could begin to act as a portal to new layers of information useful to you about the city, street, or shop you are in.

I am talking about location-based advertising. An implementational nightmare, but it is foreseeable that Semantic technologies could serve geographically relevant messages, charging advertisers on a cost per impact basis. Google kind of do this with their local search results. It’s a bit shit at the moment though.

The nearest we have to the kind of next-gen solution I’m thinking of is lastminute.com’s free service NRU, available on the Android OS. It lets you scan around your environment with your phone acting as a viewfinder, where cinemas, restaurants and theatres are overlaid in a sonar-like interface. These services pay a small amount to lastminute.com on an affiliate basis, or are paid inclusions:

NRU for Android, from lastminute on the G1

There’s one locative service I’m disappointed never took off in the UK, despite being around for a while. BrightKite is a kind of location-based Twitter, and it had real promise until Google came stomping all over them with the release of Latitude.

If I were to ‘check in’ at The Queens Larder on Russell Square, BrightKite users would see my marker and message on a map of the area, as well as other people checked in nearby. The potential for social interaction is high, because through using the service one feels proximity with other users.

With all this in mind, I’d like my readers to ‘feel closer’ to me, so as well as in this post I’ll be placing my Latitude Location Badge on my Contact Page. If you’re in the vicinity, go ahead and either serve me an advert or say hello. I won’t mind which.

Published by

Tom Saunter

I like to think about the media, technology, pop-culture & the future. When not blogging, I tweet @freedimensional & work @MediaComUK. Feel free to visit my Personal Bio to learn more about me.

  • foebea

    Latitude is almost perfect. It only updates when you open the map which for most people is every few days. If it updated location every 1, 5, 10, 30 minutes or whatever it would be much more valuable a service. as it is i send people to my latitude link and it shows me 3 states away from my current location. Useless. First get accurate and frequent results, then add the informational layer. I think it is going to be a major part of the future, but it will have to fight for its rightful place. At the moment it seems to be napping.

    • That’s a great idea Foebea, and it’s good to hear from another person who feels there is more yet to come from locative technologies.

      Another service I didn’t mention was Yahoo!’s Fire Eagle, which you might prefer to Google Latitude. It will send requests for your location at user-defined intervals via SMS, and will ask you to respond with your address, nearest landmark or venue. It’s not a GPS service.

      What information services would you like to see arriving first?
      Mine would be advertising, but then again I’m biased!

  • foebea

    Latitude is almost perfect. It only updates when you open the map which for most people is every few days. If it updated location every 1, 5, 10, 30 minutes or whatever it would be much more valuable a service. as it is i send people to my latitude link and it shows me 3 states away from my current location. Useless. First get accurate and frequent results, then add the informational layer. I think it is going to be a major part of the future, but it will have to fight for its rightful place. At the moment it seems to be napping.

    • That’s a great idea Foebea, and it’s good to hear from another person who feels there is more yet to come from locative technologies.

      Another service I didn’t mention was Yahoo!’s Fire Eagle, which you might prefer to Google Latitude. It will send requests for your location at user-defined intervals via SMS, and will ask you to respond with your address, nearest landmark or venue. It’s not a GPS service.

      What information services would you like to see arriving first?
      Mine would be advertising, but then again I’m biased!